Water doesn't grow on trees, you know

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Don't get excited. This is not a water tree. Though we do thank Yogendra174 for the photo.
  • Don't get excited. This is not a water tree. Though we do thank Yogendra174 for the photo.

Y'all realize that there's only so much fresh water on this planet, right? You realize that what we dump into the river becomes what pours from our downstream neighbor's faucets, don't ya? And, uh, it's occurred to you that we're all downstream from somewhere ... hasn't it?

Just checking.

I ask because there are two big stories going on right now involving our drinking water (on top of the don't-eat-the-fish stories from a couple weeks ago). Pay attention.

From Examiner.com:

A new report released today by Earthjustice and the Sierra Club highlights the health threats from a toxic cancer-causing chemical and identifies 29 sites in 17 states with known contamination. Minnesota's Sherpo plant is on the list, with levels 5,000 times above proposed safety guidelines.

Study says, in part:

Coal ash can leach deadly quantities of Cr(VI) to drinking water. For example, in the 2006 study 18 by the Electric Power Research Institute, an organization that vehemently opposes a hazardous designation for coal ash, EPRI tested leachate—liquid collected from wells, ponds or seeps at coal ash dumps—at 29 coal ash landfills and ponds and found hexavalent chromium at hundreds of times the proposed California drinking water goal at 15 coal ash disposal sites. Their findings included three landfills where leachate exceeded the proposed drinking water goal by 5,000 times, with two landfills exceeding that goal by 100,000 and 250,000 times. The location of these potentially deadly dumps is not known, but the high levels of hexavalent chromium at the sites may pose a danger to those living near the landfills.

Read the rest of the Examiner's post, by Alicia Bayer, here. Oh, and check out the part where she points out the EPA's failure to mention hexavalent chromium's ability to cause cancer.

In other water news, from The Gaston Gazette, there's too much fluoride in our water, too:

In the battle against tooth decay, fluoride has been one of the government’s biggest swords for 60 years.

But the standard practice of adding the compound to public drinking water has come under more scrutiny of late. And several Gaston County municipalities are considering lowering the amount of fluoride they put in their water supplies, in response to a federal recommendation to do so this month.

“We are definitely going to look into it,” said Ed Cross, Gastonia’s division manager of water treatment.

Fluoride has been hailed as a godsend of dental care since the 1940s, when it was first added to community water systems. Critics have questioned the credit fluoride should receive for reducing tooth decay. But about 184 million Americans — nearly 70 percent of the population — now drink fluoridated water, according to the U.S. Centers for Prevention and Disease Control.

The problem of late has been fluoride’s additional prevalence in toothpaste, mouthwash and other products. Environmental groups have said its overabundance may be causing widespread streaking and splotching of children’s teeth, known as fluorosis, and possibly more serious problems.

Read the rest of this article, by Michael Barrett, here.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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